​​​​​​​Gradual turnaround in second quarter encouraging recovery at Lerwick Harbour

The easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the second quarter, 2021, has contributed to improving activity levels at Lerwick Harbour, boosting figures for the half-year compared to the same period 2020 when the full effects of the pandemic lockdown were being felt.

Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, Captain Calum Grains, said: “Various positive factors in the six months to June have contributed to better half-year figures. We are gradually seeing a turnaround in port activity, with reasons to feel hopeful of continued progress if lockdowns can be avoided.”

The 1,969 vessel arrivals were down 0.5% in the six months to June, with the overall tonnage of shipping up 7% at 3,700,903 gross tonnes, which included increases in vessels servicing existing oil and gas activity, with more diving support and standby vessels offsetting a drop in supply vessels and anchor handlers. Decreases were seen in fishing vessel arrivals.

Cargo handled by all sectors at the deep-water Shetland port increased 11% to 379,067 tonnes. There was a 14% increase in roll-on/-roll-off cargo tonnage on the Aberdeen/Kirkwall routes for the period from increased passenger travel, plus shipments for the Viking onshore windfarm getting underway. The combined effects of the market downturn and Covid-19 saw offshore oil and gas cargo down 2%.

The easing of Covid-related travel restrictions also increased ferry passenger footfall, at 30,920, representing a 58% rise compared to the same six-month period in the previous year. Scottish ports remained closed to cruise ships throughout the first half of 2021.

There was a 15% decrease in tonnage of whitefish landed at the port’s market. Overall box numbers were 99,733.

Looking ahead, Captain Grains added: “There has been a smooth restart since July to our severely truncated cruise season, which ends later this month, with strong forward bookings for 2022. Recent lifting of the Covid-related voluntary suspension on international arrivals is also good news for the future.

“More shipments for the Viking project are expected. Whitefish landings remain a concern with available quota challenges, and the herring season is now underway. High level discussions continue on the plan to develop an Ultra-Deep-Water Quay to enhance our and the UK’s – decommissioning capabilities and we continue to engage with the renewables industry on its use of Lerwick to support offshore and onshore developments.”

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